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A Memory of Trains
The Boll Weevil and Others

Louis D. Rubin, Jr.

A pictorial account of America's locomotive glory

"All the machinery was on the outside, and when they came pounding along the rails, drive wheels turning, driverods stroking, pistons exploding with sound and fury and sending a swirling cloud of bituminous coal smoke overhead, the earth shook."

This is the way that Louis D. Rubin, Jr., remembers steam railroading during the days when trains were still the dominant mode of American intercity travel. In the years after the Second World War, as a young newspaperman he spent much of his time riding and photographing trains. It was a time when coal-powered Iron Horses were giving way to diesel-electric locomotives.

Railfans and general readers alike will enjoy this memoir featuring more than one hundred of Rubin's photographs. This account tells of the role that railroads and railroading played in his life as a child and youth and as an adult in a search of vocation.

Rubin began his lifelong engagement with trains in the Carolinas and Virginia, then journeyed westward to the Appalachians, northward to Maryland, New Jersey, and the Northeast, and then into the Deep South, the Midwest, and the Far West. The text and photographs of A Memory of Trains recount that journey.

There was one train that Rubin had yet to travel aboard or photograph: the Boll Weevil, which made the Hamlet-to-Charleston run during his childhood. His account of the day he finally arrived at the station in Hamlet to ride it and his exploration of what the little train meant for him constitute a poignant episode in this memoir of railroads and railroading.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., retired as University Distinguished Professor of English in 1989 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The founder of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, he served as publisher and editorial director until 1991. Rubin has written and edited forty-eight books, the most recent being Seaports of the South: A Journey; Babe Ruth's Ghost and Other Historical and Literary Speculations; The Heat of the Sun; and The Quotable Baseball Fanatic.

"For readers old enough to remember, the book is a joy; for readers too young to remember, here is a chance to share the joy."—Booklist

"Slowly leafing through [Rubin's photographs] is like spending time with an indulgent great-uncle who has taken his shoe box of yellowed pictures off the closet shelf and is sitting on the bed showing them to us one by one."—Oxford American

"Rubin has produced a handsome volume, a testament to one of his several obsessions. Trainspotters everywhere will love it."—Publishers Weekly



book jacket for A Memory of Trains


9 x 9
200 pages
119 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-382-7
hardcover, $24.95t

Out of Print

    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press